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College Sexual Assault in Boston – What Does the Law Say?

The rush back to college has filled dorms and university districts with college students ready to get back to a normal campus life after the Pandemic. Unfortunately the new semester has already brought a wave of sexual assault allegations at Boston area colleges. At Bentley University a 21 year old student was charged with raping another student off campus. The student is being charged with rape, assault to rape and indecent assault and battery. At Boston University, the university disciplined its biggest fraternity by requiring them not to hold events following sexual assault allegations. The Mu Psi Kappa Sigma fraternity was suspended after they had two gatherings in violation of the rules. Boston University is conducting an investigation into the sexual assault allegations. 

In the case of the Bentley College Assault, a grand jury indicted the accused for the charges. It’s not yet clear whether the sexual assault allegations at Boston University will be accompanied by a criminal investigation or whether they can be dealt with via the college’s disciplinary process.

Why You Need a Top Criminal Defense Attorney If You Are a College Student Accused of Sexual Assault

Colleges and Universities have a responsibility to investigate claims of sexual assault under the obligation in Title IX for educational institutions to combat discrimination “on the basis of sex.” If you have been accused of sexual assault while a college student, most universities will investigate the incident, regardless of whether a criminal charge is brought. 

College students who are accused of sexual assault often have to undergo a police investigation AND an investigation by their institution. This can be draining and demoralizing and it could cause a defendant under a criminal investigation to make statements that could affect any subsequent trial. Prosecutors in a criminal trial can use your statements during a Title IX investigation. 

When you are accused of sexual assault as a college student and you are facing a Title IX investigation, you might not think you need a criminal defense attorney. When students are facing Title IX Allegations of sexual assault, they do have a right to an attorney.  For other allegations a school may discourage having outside counsel, but not for sexual assault. 

If your Title IX sexual assault Investigation finds you guilty of the allegation, that doesn’t mean you would be found guilty in a court of law. There are very different standards of proof required in a Title IX investigation (a civil investigation), compared to a criminal trial. A Title IX investigation only has to conform to the “preponderance of evidence” standard, where the weight of evidence could cause a person to assume an event has taken place. There are many reasons why the Title IX process is a less thorough fact-finding process, including the fact that hearsay and rumor can be used as evidence, and evidence is not shared with both parties. 

During a criminal trial, the standard of proof is “beyond reasonable doubt.” The decision that is made must pass the standard of assumption and be clearly proved without doubt.

College Sexual assault is a serious crime. When you are accused of sexual assault in college you may or may not be facing a criminal sexual assault investigation at the time of the investigation. The possibility that a criminal investigation could occur should never be ruled out. 

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault involves any unwanted sexual contact, including sexual contact that happens when someone is intoxicated. As college students are often in situations where there is alcohol, consent can be difficult to define. 

If sexual assault involves rape or other charges it can be a felony. A sexual assault conviction can also result in being registered as a sex offender. In Massachusetts, sexual assault by itself can lead to up to 5 years in prison, with a longer sentence if there are related charges. Even if a criminal sexual assault charge is not brought, a Title IX finding can lead to reduced opportunities, severe tuition penalties and stigma.

If you are facing into the multi-faceted process of a college sexual assault accusation, you don’t have to go it alone. It’s critical to speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You can’t rule out the possibility that the allegations may be serious enough to bring a criminal charge. Even if a criminal charge is not brought, a criminal defense attorney can sit with you through college proceedings and advise you on the best way to ensure the process does not derail your rights and your freedom. 

Our Boston college sexual assault attorneys are ready to defend the most serious and complex cases of college sexual assault. Please contact us today at (617) 880-6155


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